In this Newsletter:

1. Holiday Stressors Effect on the Brain

2.  Attention Deficit

3. Announcements: The Run and Holiday Essential Oils Workshop!

4. December Top Reads


Brain Stress?? Holiday Mayhem?

It is very hard to not to get swept away by the holiday mayhem. Instead of a time of pause, reflection, and celebration, we tend to speed up and get aggravated. Even with nature’s cue to slow down by paving the roads with snow, we drive quicker on the roads to get to the next deal.  The effects of increased and intense stress on the brain can lead one normally sane person into an ipod stampede on black Friday. The merger of stress effects, the biochemical individuality of functional medicine, and environmental and lifestyle interactions is explained in an abstract in the Nature journal:

Chronic exposure to stress hormones, whether it occurs during the prenatal period, infancy, childhood, adolescence, adulthood or aging, has an impact on brain structures involved in cognition and mental health. However, the specific effects on the brain, behaviour and cognition emerge as a function of the timing and the duration of the exposure, and some also depend on the interaction between gene effects and previous exposure to environmental adversity. Advances in animal and human studies have made it possible to synthesize these findings, and in this Review a model is developed to explain why different disorders emerge in individuals exposed to stress at different times in their lives.

Nature Reviews Neuroscience 10, 434-445 (June 2009) | doi:10.1038/nrn2639


Still, people have different reactions to the same stressors. Some of this can be explained by environmental cues and lifestyle patterns.  Dr. Nash explains the effect of stress on different blood types in the D’Adamo Newsletter:

This is because the gene that codes for ABO blood type also affects other genes in close proximity that control things like dopamine metabolism, cortisol levels, and other processes that will affect the entire nervous system’s coordination. For example, Type B needs additional nitrogen rich foods and supplements because their bodies lack the ability to produce a compound called nitric oxide to the extent that the other blood types do. Nitric oxide helps coordinate the nervous system, immune system and cardiovascular system. We know that when you are stressed all three of these systems are put under more strain.

Another important factor is the stress hormone cortisol. Type O produces the least amount and Type A produces the most amount of cortisol. When cortisol is continually over-produced it can cause adrenal exhaustion and the corresponding symptoms of depression and fatigue. Type O’s reaction to stress can cause an overproduction of adrenaline which can make them more susceptible to anxiety when stressed. But again, long-term imbalances can create more depression from burn out of the nervous system as well.


However we react to stress, the effects on the brain are evident and the sum bodily effects are universal, not good. According to Dr. Bruce Lipton, cell biologist, stress shuts down the part of the brain involved in rational thought in order to go into the survival mode run by the primitive brain. In scientific literature, this effect is explained biochemically by the adrenal gland stress hormones bombarding the memory center of the brain, the hippocampus, resulting in “brain fog”.   The downstream effects on the body is gastrointestinal distress (where most of your neurotransmitters are formed, AKA the enteric nervous system), hormonal effects (from the liver’s incapacity to detoxify all the stress hormones along with its regular jobs), weight gain (as the body reserves fuel for later use when it can be absorbed), and emotional disturbances (due to changes in brain biochemistry).

I recently listened to a professional webinar with one of Dr. Amen’s colleagues through Building Strength Webinars. Dr. Amen uses SPECT imaging of the brain which displays specific neurotransmitter patterns to provide an individualized treatment for mental disorders. For example, Dr. Amen classifies ADD in 6 different patterns, with 6 different treatments!

1. Classic ADD characterized by patterns of hyper, impulsive, and inattentive behavior. The prefrontal cortex (PFC) activity is low, and in this scenario stimulants can help.  

Read more here.